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A cracked and broken ornament ball hanging on a Christmas tree.

Holidaches

I have always looked forward to the holiday season. Out of all the holidays, Christmas has always been my absolute favorite. Celebrating with family and friends, while surrounded by beautiful decorations, twinkling lights and holiday cheer. As they say, “ It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, and for most people it is.

This community has all been given the “gift” that keeps on giving, aka rheumatoid arthritis. With the happiest of holidays also comes persistent stress, and RA loves stress. What should be a special time, full of comfort and joy, can easily become a full-blown flare…

Managing the holidays with rheumatoid arthritis

This is my second holiday season coping with RA. I have yet to figure out how to successfully manage the stress of my diagnosis, never mind the additional stress of holiday happenings.  How does everyone else do it? Between work (this is my busiest time of the year), kids and everything in between I have found myself completely and utterly exhausted.

By the time I try to “relax” with my husband and daughters, my body is so stiff and achy. I find it impossible to get comfortable. My hip hurts if I lay on my side, my knees hurt whether they are bent or straight. The list goes on and on … and on! The only time I don’t ache is when I’m moving, so I find myself heavily overdoing it. Christmas shopping, baking cookies, and wrapping gifts until I crash.

Overdoing it can cause a flare

Well… it hurts when I rest, so I just keep on moving. But constantly overdoing it is causing me to ache. It’s a vicious cycle, exacerbated by the ho ho holiday season.

I found myself complaining the other day about dealing with RA during the holidays. Wishing Santa would bring me a few less “holidaches” and pains.

Viewing the holidays differently this year

Then I heard a story about a man who is 38, the same age as I am. He has two daughters, just like I have and they are about the same ages too. He found out very recently that he has a malignant brain tumor. Doctors quickly rushed him in for emergency surgery, due to the seizures he was experiencing. He is currently awaiting his prognosis, which is not looking promising.

This tragic news made me take a step back and re-evaluate my life. Reminding myself to be thankful that my illness can be managed. Realizing that if my illness can be managed, then so can my stress levels.

Practicing gratitude moving forward

With this information, I have made the decision that I will be tackling my holiday stress with gratitude, for all I am blessed with in this life. Grateful that I can enjoy Christmas with the gift of “health”. Celebrate with my loved ones and appreciate each day as they come. Reminding myself that, “Each day is a gift.”

Of course, I’m still hoping for a few tips in holiday stress management from all you RA warriors, that have been dealing with this far longer than me!

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy holiday season with your loved ones!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Richard Faust moderator
    1 month ago

    Hi shelbieatwater. You certainly are not alone in noticing the increased stress of the holidays impacting RA. In fact, this article summarizes the results of a survey we did on the topic: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/life-with-ra-during-the-holidays/. One of the things noted in the article is the need for pacing. One of our contributors, who is an occupational therapist, wrote this guide to pacing: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/shifting-gears-a-guide-to-pacing/. Thought you might also be interested in this review of a book on surviving the holidays with a chronic illness: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/chronic-christmas-surviving-the-holidays-with-a-chronic-illness/ and this one on having a happy holiday without sacrificing your health: https://rheumatoidarthritis.net/living/having-a-happy-holiday-season-without-sacrificing-your-health/. Hopefully some others will chime in with some thoughts. Wishing you the yours the best this holiday season. Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    1 month ago

    I find little joy in the holidays for the holidays sake. It is a difficult time for me. But I have also found little ways to cope. I try to find the little things I can do to make others happy. Happiness is making the world more happy if I can. Pay it forward for certain.

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